Oak Valley - South Africa
The Estate - History
Sir Antonie Viljoen
Oak Valley Estate was founded in 1898 by Sir Antonie Viljoen, a medical doctor who graduated from Edinburgh University in Scotland. Sir Antonie was also a Senator in the Cape Parliament and was knighted in 1916 for his efforts to bring together Boer and Brit in the bitter aftermath of the Boer War.

Sir Antonie, who signed up as a medical officer with the Boer army during the war, was placed under house arrest on the Oak Valley property for the remainder of the campaign after his capture by the British.

His internment on Oak Valley was only granted on condition that he paid for the services of two British soldiers to guard him for the duration of the war!

He was a farmer extraordinaire, and amongst his many farming achievements were the establishment of the first commercial deciduous fruit orchards in the Elgin valley. These orchards were the precursor to the development of the apple industry in Elgin, which remains the economic backbone of the valley to this day.

His vision was similarly reflected in a decision to plant a substantial area of vineyard for wine grape production. This was followed in 1908 by the commissioning of the first wine cellar in the Elgin valley. Regretfully the cellar was taken out of production in the early 1940's.

Another achievement was the manufacturing of charcoal from black wattle plantations established for this purpose on the property. This was to become the major source of income for the farm and was reputed to be the largest source of charcoal production in the country.

His love of trees led him to establish large forests of English oaks, and his will specifies that no future inheritor of the property be allowed to cut down any of these trees. Today there are over 4000 oak trees covering 30 hectares of the farm.

The acorns from the oak forests were harvested and were stored under water in large bunkers to provide feed for a piggery at Oak Valley.

Up until that time the Elgin valley was regarded as a low potential agricultural area, but Sir Antonie's vision was to change this perception forever.

Today the Elgin valley is renowned for its apples and pears, its greenhouse cutflowers, its rose growing, and, increasingly, for the production of high quality cool climate wines.


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